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Fue Xiong wins Merced City Council race; 3 county cities make choices for mayor

Merced Sun-Star logo Merced Sun-Star 11/24/2022 Shawn Jansen, Merced Sun-Star (Merced, Calif.)

Nov. 24—Fue Xiong will become the District 6 Merced City Council member after winning a tight race over incumbent Delray Shelton following the official certification from the Merced County Registrar of Voters Office on Wednesday.

Xiong, who works as an engineer for the California Department of Toxic Substances Control, captured 52.2% of the votes, earning 157 more votes than Shelton, a lieutenant in the Merced County Sheriff's Office who received 47.4%.

District 6 covers much of Merced north of Yosemite Avenue.

"Thank you to the voters of District 6 for putting your trust in me and for setting a precedent for the future of our beautiful city," Xiong said in a statement.

"You said in a loud and powerful voice that we will be heard, we will not be ignored, and together, we can demand a better Merced for all of us. Because of your vote, we now have a mandate to create change in our city so that it serves all of us, not just the special interests."

Other Merced City Council races weren't as tightly contested.

In District 2, which covers southwest Merced, retired mailman Ronnie DeAnda won, receiving 72.6% of the votes over incumbent Fernando Echevarria.

Meanwhile, in District 4, legal counselor Shane Smith received 46.7% to win a three-way race with Casey Steed and Javier Fuentes.

The three new members of the seven-seat Merced City Council will face numerous challenges once they are sworn in.

Case in point, high crime remains the top issue for many Merced residents, particularly in the wake of the shocking homicide of 8-year-old Sophia Mason and the recent fatal shooting of a 9-month-old baby.

On that note, the council will have to figure out what happens to Measure C, a public safety half-cent sales tax that provides $7 million annually, supporting 30 police and fire jobs.

Measure C is scheduled to sunset in 2026, and it failed to get enough council votes earlier this year to be placed on the November ballot.

Poverty impacts a quarter of the city's 90,000 residents, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.

Plus, affordable housing remains a big issue for many Merced residents, with the median home price now over $400,000. Meanwhile, the supply has been frustratingly tight, especially for UC Merced students.

New mayors in Atwater, Los Banos and Livingston

A total of 55,580 ballots were turned as 44.8% of the 124,665 registered voters in Merced County submitted ballots in the Nov. 8 general election.

Mike Nelson won the Atwater mayor race, receiving 67.6% of the votes. Nelson defeated John Galen Cale, who received 31.7% of the votes.

Daniel Ambriz won the District 3 Atwater City Council seat with 52.0% of the votes. Bryan Raymond ran unopposed in the District 4 Atwater City Council race.

Jose Moran won the Livingston mayor race against Maria Soto. Moran received 71.7% of the votes. Gurpal Samra (35.9%) and Jason Roth (29.8 %) won the two Livingston City Council seats in a five-way race.

Former law enforcement officer and local businessman Paul Llanez ran unopposed for Los Banos mayor.

Douglas Scott Begonia won the District 2 Los Banos City Council seat with 58.9% of the votes to defeat Refugio Llamas. Brett Jones ran unopposed in District 3.

In Chowchilla, incumbent Waseem Ahmed (42.7%) and dairy farmer Jeff Troost (39%) emerged from a three-candidate race to secure council seats. Kelly Smith, a council appointee, ran unopposed to finish his term.

Assembly and Congress

Former Merced County Sheriff Mark Pazin on Monday conceded to Fresno City Councilmember Esmeralda Soria in the race for California's 27th Assembly District seat.

The newly drawn District 27 covers western Fresno County, most of Madera County and all of Merced County.

Meanwhile, in the tightly contested California 13th Congressional District race, John Duarte, a Modesto Republican, had 50.2% of the votes as of Wednesday for a 593-vote lead on Assemblyman Adam Gray, D-Merced.

For more results, visit the Merced County Registrar of Voter's website.

This story was originally published November 23, 2022 3:19 PM.

(c)2022 the Merced Sun-Star (Merced, Calif.) Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

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